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A TBTS Good Idea™: Life Swap, starring Stephanie Pratt and the Balloon Boy

October 19, 2009

Man, I’m super-impressed with this Heene family. First, they have a kid named Falcon—totally blowing a big, wet raspberry at the notion that only famous people can give dumbass names to their kids. More importantly, late last week they totally obliterated the already fading line between tabloid journalism, reality TV, and (formerly) respectable TV news outlets.

I’m sure we’ve all heard the Balloon Boy story by now, so I won’t recount the details we already know or run down the list of questions that remain. But it’s worth pointing out that cable news outlets willingly turned themselves into shills by abandoning any pretense of journalistic standards (sourcing, etc.) and chasing the pure visual titillation of the moment. In so doing, CNN, Fox, MSNBC, and the other 24-hour news purveyors on TV and the Internet became publicists for a reality TV show, or at least part of a reality show pitch. Who among us doesn’t think that, because of all this news media coverage, the Heene family (already TV veterans on Wife Swap) is now destined to take the place of the Gosselins as TV’s most famous “horrible parents – doomed kids” family? And the ratings, for the first episode at least, will likely kill. Then we’ll all lose interest and move on to the next sideshow.

Until then, there will likely be lots of ideas for what form the Heene family reality show should take. But there will be only one TBTS Good Idea™: Life Swap.

The premise of Life Swap is simple: Falcon Heene goes to live in L.A. and hang out with Spencer, Heidi, Kristin, Brody, Audrina, and the rest of the Hills crew. Stephanie Pratt goes to hang out with the Heene family in Colorado. Cameras are everywhere, and we get to see all the fun. If it’s not already obvious, let me run down a few ways in which Life Swap may be my goodest Good Idea™ thus far:

1. The network that hosts Life Swap won’t have to pay any transportation costs to get the two stars into their new homes. Falcon can fly the silver balloon to SoCal, and Stephanie can fly it back. I would suggest that Stephanie could just drive herself to Colorado, but well, that won’t exactly be an option for a while.

2. Stephanie can go to rehab in the peaceful Colorado mountains. Falcon can go where throwing up is 100% socially acceptable.

3. Falcon can get the hell away from his crazy father—I think even Spencer Pratt would be preferable to that guy. Richard Heene’s insane hunger for fame will be no threat to Stephanie Pratt’s well-being, as she’s already lost all semblance of the distinctions between a private life and an on-camera one. If you watch 10 minutes of The Hills, you can see that the stars already believe that the whole world is watching everything they do, whether cameras are there or not. With the Hills cast as role models, Falcon can at least adapt to the reality of an utterly self-centered, camera-ready life, rather than always having to deal with the uncertain possibility and serve as a pawn in his father’s headline-grabbing chicanery.

4. In a bit of awesome cross-marketing synergy, Richard Heene can go to L.A. to compete in the next season of Brody Jenner’s Bromance. Stephanie Pratt can accompany him for a dramatic, emotional reunion with all her vapid pals. While their Pop is in L.A., Richard Heene’s two other kids can escape to Ecuador, never to be heard from again, and actually have a chance at a normal life.

I can just feel it this time, friends. The reality TV execs are gonna be knocking down the doors of Brown Tweed Manor in no time. This Good Idea™ is like the Heene balloon—shining like gleaming silver foil in the Colorado sky—but far less flimsy.

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